Liam Neeson wants to do a study on fear. So he gets a group of people together under the guise of an insomnia study, in order to scare them and see how they react. The group starts off as 6, but within a few seconds, two of them leave and are never heard from again. Did anyone else find that odd? Introduce two characters, send them off, and then never speak of them again? How long does it take to get some stitches? Unless they were the ones that were supposed to do the scaring, but I don't remember that being mentioned either. Anyway... After a while one of the house guests (Lili Taylor) discovers a hidden secret within the walls and rooms of Hill House. And that secret isn't very happy about being found out. So the house attacks the guests and all hell breaks loose. Literally at one point.
The movie moves along very slowly. It kind of reminded me of The Shining in that way. Of course this movie wasn't nearly as good. It just moved along slowly, trying to build the suspense. But to be honest, I didn't really care what happened to these people. I was actually hoping one would die to make things interesting. One did die, but it took way too long for it to happen (although the death was quite exciting). The story about why the house is upset was a little convoluted. A second wife? I must have missed something. I did love the sets. The house itself was quite amazing. Just looking at it and trying to imagine myself living there was frightening. But there were way too many hallways. I never got a real feel about where the rooms were in relation to each other. The acting was ok. Taylor takes a leap from her indie roots to try and make it in the mainstream, and does a credible job. She was just held down by a few awful pieces of dialogue. Owen Wilson seemed out of place around these actors. He never really got into the feel of the film. Zeta-Jones played her role well, but if there was supposed to be a small lesbian sub-plot, it was very very small. And Liam Neeson has never been one of my favorites for some reason. And he lived up to those expectations.
So overall, there were a few chills and thrills, but too few to make it very exciting. The special effects were somewhat different and done very well, but in this age, I need a little more than cool special effects. How about a coherent story and some real frights? If you're looking for a good scare, I'd put my money on the Blair Witch.